It can be said that the iMac saved Apple. After all, before the iMac was announced Apple’s stock was around $15 and the company for the rest of us was clinging to life amid swirling rumors of takeovers, mergers, and just plain old financial collapse. When the iMac hit the shelves in 1998, the computer world was quite literally put on its ear. The iMac flew off the shelves faster than Apple could build them (a familiar problem), and in the process helped Apple to again revolutionize a home computer niche. With a fast processor, crisp monitor and a downright outrageous design the iMac immediately galvanized the Mac community to get their support back behind Apple. Fast forward to present day and Apple is two iMac models ahead, this time sporting the iMac DV and the iMac DV SE (for special edition).
Check Under the HoodThe special edition iMac is basically a DV iMac with an extra 64 MB of RAM (bringing it to 128 MB) and a larger hard drive (13 GB instead of 10 GB), still for those wanting to work editing digital video the extra RAM and hard drive space are essential. The other difference between the DV iMac and the SE is the "Graphite" color, which is completely transparent and I must admit, cool-looking. Here’s how the specs of the iMac DV SE pan out:
Processor – 400MHz G3
RAM – 128MB
Cache – 512K L2
Video – 8MB ATI RAGE 128
Hard Drive – 13 GB
FireWire – 2 ports (400Mbps)
DVD – Slot loading 4X
Speakers – Harmon Kardon
USB – Two USB ports
Networking – 10/100 Mbps Ethernet
Software – iMovie, Appleworks, IE4, Quicken 98, Bugdom, Adobe Pagemill
OS – Mine shipped with OS 8.6, although it’s been reported that they are now shipping with OS 9
The "DV" PartThe DV in iMac DV SE stands for digital video, and it’s when you’re dealing with digital video that this machine really shines. (It should be noted that the DV iMacs work only with DIGITAL video camcorders). In concert with iMove (Apple’s simple-to-use video editing software) you can create truly spectacular home movies complete with breathtaking scene transitions, credits, and two background audio tracks. The process of creating these movies is easy, but also very time-consuming. For example, a 22 minute compilation of video clips complete with transitions, text overlay and background music (taken directly from audio CDs) took me about 8 hours to create. The result was spectacular (for a home movie), with the quality of the digital video signal remaining intact until the video was ultimately exported to VHS.
One of the shocking aspects of movie editing on the DV iMac SE is that every second of digital video takes a minimum of 3.6 MB of hard drive space! This means that an "empty" 13 GB hard drive will give you about 30 minutes of edited video that has extra music and effects incorporated. If you’re going to get serious about editing anything longer, you’ll need to get yourself a large external FireWire hard drive to handle the data. The actual process of moving digital video to and from the iMac is flawless; the iMac DV SE recognized my Sony TRV-110 camcorder immediately and I could control all of the basic camcorder functions directly from iMovie (very nice). Once video has been created you can export it to a wide range of formats ranging from DV video (back to your camcorder) to QuickTime Email movies. In short, if you are looking to edit movies and want a simple solution, this is the machine for you. That said, the documentation that comes with iMovie is non-existent, and the online guide is average at best. It’s a darned good thing that iMovie is relatively easy to use or there’d be thousands of annoyed customers banging down Apple's door.